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Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 12:06 UK

Iranian cleric blames quakes on promiscuous women

The reuined citadel of Bam aftern the 2003 earthquake
More than 25,000 people died in the Bam quake

Women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes, an Iranian cleric says.

Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sediqi, the acting Friday prayer leader in Tehran, said women should stick to strict codes of modesty to protect themselves.

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," he explained.

Tens of thousands of people have died in Iran earthquakes in the last decade.

Mr Sediqi was delivering a televised sermon at the Tehran University campus mosque last Friday on the need for a "general repentance" by Iranians when he warned of a "prevalence of degeneracy".

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes," he said.

'Disappoint God'

Correspondents say many young Iranians sometimes push the boundaries of how they can dress, showing hair under their headscarves or wearing tight-fitting clothes.

Mr Sediqi also described the violence following last year's disputed presidential election - the result of which prompted thousands of people to hold mass protests - as a "political earthquake".

"Now if a natural earthquake hits Tehran, no one will be able to confront such a calamity but God's power, only God's power. So lets not disappoint God."

More than 25,000 people died when a powerful earthquake hit the ancient city of Bam in 2003.

Seismologists have warned that the capital, Tehran, is situated on a large number of tectonic fault lines and could be hit by a devastating earthquake soon.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said many of Tehran's 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

There are plans to build a purpose built new capital near Qom.



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